Tuesday, February 7, 2012
What to make of Chekov?
Speaking of Chek(h)ov, there has been a cyber legend that Pravda questioned the lack of a "Russian" member on the international crew of Star Trek, and so Gene Roddenberry felt compelled to create the character Ensign Chekov. Snopes questions the story on several counts. Nothing has apparently been found in the Pravda archives to verify this claim, and young Pavel looks suspiciously like Davy Jones (mop heads were quite popular at the time). But, if you look at young Anton Chekhov and young Pavel Chekov there is some resemblance ; ) It seems Roddenberry was already cultivating myths back in the 60s that would keep Trekkies going for decades afterward.
It struck me that Roddenberry was more drawn to the voyages of Captain Cook than he was the space race in creating the original series. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to introduce a Russian character, probably in an effort to show that the Cold War really would come to an end some day and the space race would evolve into a joint effort. Turned out to be quite prescient in this regard, as the famous Apollo-Soyuz joint mission proved in 1975. A number of collaborative efforts have been carried out in the years since.